Book Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Dare I say it? I think…CINDER is the best book I’ve read in 2011. And it has some pretty worthy competition (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, The Night Circus, Ashes).

When I read the synopsis, I shrugged. It sounded okay.

Guys, it’s more than okay. It’s wonderful. This not-at-all simple retelling of the classic fairytale had me hooked from the first page. I wouldn’t have changed a single word. It completely silenced my inner editor/critic and I was able to enjoy a book without picking it apart. Instead, I made a list of all the things Marissa Meyer did right!

Characters: The typical Cinderella characters — mistreated orphan, evil stepmother, charming prince — are probably the most cliche in all literature. But Meyer managed to make each cast member interesting and fresh. The main character, Cinder, is a mistreated orphan who also happens to be an excellent mechanic and (hold your breath) a cyborg. The evil stepmother is awful to Cinder, but she does it in a bitter, modern, almost manic depressive way. Even though she’s cruel, she’s also believable. And last but not least, Prince Kai *sigh* is charming and self-effacing and totally the kind of guy you want to bring home to meet your family (unless, of course, you happen to have an evil family).

Plot: How tired is the story about a girl who wants to go to a dance? Meyer added life to the story by changing the character’s motivation and upping the stakes. Cinder doesn’t just want to go to the ball, she has to go…or risk the life of another character. And without going into too much detail, let me just say that the ending is not what you would expect from a Cinderella story.

Pacing: While this story is action packed, it won’t give you an anxiety attack. There are enough quiet moments — that the writing carries beautifully, I might add — for you to take a beath, get to know your characters and enjoy the setting.

Writing: Cinder is told in third person, which lends itself to vibrant setting and character descriptions. The dialouge is snappy and realistic, and the word choice and vocabulary are perfect for the target audience without being typical.

There really is only one more bit of praise I can heap on this book: I’d recommend it to anyone. It’s clean enough to share it with my 12-year-old neighbor, it’s sweet enough to give to my 77-year-old grandma, and while it’s not manly I’d still lend a copy to my dad who just enjoys a good story. It is not dark, it is not edgy, it does not contain any questionable material.

It’s practically perfect.

Look for CINDER on January 3, 2012.

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